Wherever there is a construction site with elevated surfaces, there is the danger of workers falling and those below being struck by falling equipment and other objects. Falling objects are the third leading cause of death in the construction industry, according to OSHA, and they resulted in 45,940 injuries in 2017. That came to 5.2% of all workplace injuries throughout Kentucky and across the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that 17% of all workplace fatalities in 2017 were caused by falls. In that year, fatal falls reached their highest level since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries was established back in 1992.
For greater safety, construction employers are encouraged to adopt the American National Standard for Dropped Object Prevention Solutions as a best practice. Employers may use the standard as a tool to help them comply with OSHA's own regulations. Though it has been adopted by the American National Standards Institute, OSHA has yet to reference it as a best practice.
A second tip for employers is to promote a safety-minded, not productivity-minded, culture. Employees should feel free to voice safety concerns and intervene without fear of retaliation. Lastly, employers should remember that everyone is affected by falling people and objects, including even bystanders.
An employee who has been hurt while on the job may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The program can cover medical bills, disability leave and a percentage of lost wages. Someone who wishes to file for these benefits may benefit from legal advice and guidance, especially if they face opposition from their employer and need to mount an appeal.